INCLUSIVE BILL: Brahmins, Chhetries categorised as ‘others’

KATHMANDU, JAN 06 – Despite objections from a majority of senior bureaucrats and leaders of major political parties, the Inclusive Bill is all set to categorise Brahmins and Chhetris, who constitute around 29 percent of the total population, as “others”.

“As earlier, Brahmins and Chhetries are going to be categorised as others,” said Minister for Law and Justice Brijesh Kumar Gupta. “The bill is almost final and will be endorsed soon.”

However, confusion remains as the parties are still at variance over the list of social groups to be placed under the “Adibasi Janajati” (indigenous nationalities) umbrella. Though the government identified 59 social groups as Aadibasi-Janajatis, leaders of major political parties, including the UCPN (Maoist), the Nepali Congress and the CPM-UML, have expressed disapproval of the government’s categorisation of Brahmins and Chhetris. The “others”, as per the bill, will not get any privileges, irrespective of their economic and social conditions.

The bill proposes to reserve 48 percent government job openings for marginalised communities that include Madhesis, Aadibasi-Janajatis, women and Dalits.

Given these differences, the PMO has assigned a three-member committee comprised of government secretaries to give final shape to the bill by addressing the remaining contentious issues. The committee has also been asked to define the term “Madhesi”.

A meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office in Singha Durbar on Thursday, which was attended also by Minister Gupta, has asked the committee to finalise the bill considering the sensitivity attached with the issue of categorisation.

“This bill has been brought after consultation with other marginalised groups and it will be moved ahead,” said Gupta. “You can consider the bill as passed though some technical aspects are yet to be sorted.”

The bill fails to impress many bureaucrats engaged in its drafting. Dissatisfied, the officials did not attend two rounds of meeting held on Wednesday and Thursday to finalise the bill. Some have registered their objection to the bill and have sought amendment to a number of provisions in it.

The revised bill, however, has made some changes to the earlier draft. The reservation percentage was 45, which has been increased to 48. The new bill has also presented a breakdown of each particular social group. For instance, in the category of women, reservation would be ensured for Dalit, indigenous and other marginalised groups. Likewise, in the category of Madhesis, priority would be given to Dalits and backward groups.

Some members engaged in the drafting of the bill have also objected to the “blanket inclusion”, which, they said, would not attract able candidates to bureaucracy, which has already lost its appeal for the best minds. By BHADRA SHARMA & PRANAB KHAREL from ekantipur

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